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In Remembrance: How Michael Bishop Captured The Magic Of The Symphony
Most people with even a cursory understanding of recording grasp the need for isolation. If the musicians aren't contained in separate, soundproof booths, the guitar bleeds into the bass, the bass is in the vocal mic, and the cymbals seep into everything. What does this mean for classical music, where dozens of musicians are together in the same space?
For Michael Bishop, it was simple: Embrace the bleed.
"I let leakage be my friend," the jazz, pop and classical engineer, who won 10 GRAMMYs in the latter category, said in Bobby Owsinski's 2004 book The Recording Engineer's Handbook. "I learned how to work with the leakage in the room and make it a pleasant experience instead of something to be avoided."
By letting the air molecules between the musicians vibrate naturally, Bishop made sure the majesty of the symphony orchestra translated to your home listening system. But what about a string quartet as opposed to a massive ensemble?
"It's pretty easy to present this huge instrument which is an orchestra because just the size and numbers can give a good impression almost no matter what you might do," he added. "But a string quartet is really difficult because you can hear every little detail and the imaging is critical, particularly if you're working in stereo." Still, Bishop's surgical attention to detail meant the subtle details of catgut made it to the grooves.
Bishop, who won GRAMMYs over the decades for Best Engineered Album, Classical; Best Surround Sound Album, Best Choral Performance and various other categories, unexpectedly passed away March 29 of an unspecified cause. He was 70.
For those unaware of his contributions to the classical sphere, dig deep into his innovative miking technique via The Recording Engineer's Handbook—and turn up his music to behold his aural architecture.